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Maple Grove has a crowning moment
MVP Chris Secky leads Red Dragons to championship

In the fourth quarter of the Class D state championship game, play was delayed when the game ball came to a rest atop a backboard.

Maple Grove's Chris Secky feigned that he was about to jump up and go get it, and the way he played Saturday night, it wouldn't have been all that surprising if he did.

Secky earned MVP honors and put a fantastic finishing touch on one of the best high school athletic careers in Western New York history as he led Maple Grove to a 43-38 victory over John A. Coleman Catholic.

An estimated 1,000 at the Glens Falls Civic Center watched Secky score 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting, grab 11 rebounds and make three steals. He was omnipresent in Maple Grove's 16-8 fourth quarter that gave the Red Dragons -- and Secky -- their second state title in three years.

"Words can't describe a state championship," said Secky, whose Red Dragons lost in last year's state semifinals. "Coming off the loss last year, this is all I've wanted to do since that day. Everybody worked so hard. It means the world to me."

Secky scored 10 of his team's 19 field goals and statisticians credited him with assists on two other baskets (although onlookers thought he had more, in addition to several other passes that helped lead to baskets).

"My assistant coach Greg Eckwahl told me today that Chris wasn't going to let us lose," said Curt Fischer, seventh-year coach for Maple Grove (16-8). "You could just see it in his eyes all night and all game. There was just no way he was going to walk out of here with a loss."

Secky finished his career with 2,065 points, leaving him in 10th place on the all-time Western New York list, one point behind Christian Laettner. Despite that point total, coaches have often urged the returning first-team All-Western New Yorker to be more selfish on the court.

"He just keeps everybody in the game," said Fischer. "A great player like him, he could score a lot more points but he keeps everybody in the game. He has a mental thing about that, because there are times we beg him to shoot more, shoot more. That's just his game. He's just a very unselfish young man and I can't say enough good things about him."

In addition to the two state basketball titles, the two-time All-WNY first teamer in football was also named the Class D championship MVP in 2008 when he quarterbacked Maple Grove to that title.

"I know he's the greatest athlete to come out of Maple Grove, there's no doubt," said Fischer. "And he's got to be one of the most decorated athletes from Western New York."

Coleman Catholic (20-2), the Section IX champion from the Town of Hurley in downstate's Ulster County (a few miles across I-87 from Kingston), led for much of the game.

The Statesmen took a 22-14 lead at halftime and were up, 30-27, after three quarters behind all-tournament picks Chris Chatelain (10 of his 11 points came in the first half) and Jake Palmer (three of his nine points came in the first half; 4-of-20 shooting).

Maple Grove went to a terrific 1-3-1 matchup zone defense and forced a lot of bad shots from Coleman Catholic, which was 6 for 33 from the field in the second half.

Maple Grove took its first lead since the first quarter when Secky found sophomore all-tournament pick Alex Grace for a layup and a 31-30 lead less than two minutes into the fourth. Junior Gage Milliman scored off a Grace lob, then a Secky follow put Maple Grove up, 35-30.

"Chris is just a great all-around player," said Grace. "Teams will game plan us and they'll double- or triple-team him. He's a great passer. He can do everything and that's what he did today."

Later, good defense led to a transition in which Grace sprung Secky ahead for a layup and Milliman -- found by a nice Secky pass -- was fouled inside and hit two free throws with 1:52 left to make it 39-33. Secky added two free throws for a 41-33 lead with 1:30 to go.

"These young guys, they love to play basketball, every single one of them," Secky said. "This is my favorite sport. I love to play it. And when you have 15 guys who love to play the game, it's hard to beat a team like that."

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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